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GUEST,Jon Dudley Song Collectors: Who, what, when, where? (13) RE: Song Collectors: Who, what, when, where? 15 Sep 18


Vectis, Bob Copper had been connected to the BBC via the 'Country Magazine' programme and also the 40 minute Home Service drama documentary 'The Life of James Copper'. He was issued with a so-called 'midget' tape recorder which it took a strong man to lug around and just as a matter of interest, these machines were serviced by Stanley Unwin, later to find fame for his nonsensical commentaries on all manner of subjects. Anyway, Bob was given Hampshire and Sussex as his baliwick and collected songs and dialect part-time for the BBC whilst running the HH Inn, Cheriton and after that the Central Club in Peacehaven. This work is wonderfully covered in the second of Bob's books 'Songs and Southern Breezes' which we are intending to re-publish later this year. Bob maintained friendships with the other collectors, two of whom 'collected' Bob and other family members - Peter Kennedy and Seamus Ennis. Seamus was an occasional visitor to Peacehaven and Bob and he got on extremely well, often, he stayed at The Castle Hotel just across the road and it wasn't unknown for him to telephone Bob whilst he was cleaning at around eight in the morning with the immortal words "Bob, is that you? Good! I'm feeling the need of a drink upon me".

This was a magical time for Bob, to be paid (not much) for something he absolutely loved doing...talking to country people, hearing their stories and singing their songs - he was exactly the person to do it - he spoke their language. He was fortunate too that although it was becoming rare, there were still singers to be found, although they too could see the decline, as one of them put it to him, "You should 'ha bin round 'ere twenty years ago - we had some capital fine singers then..." What a stroke of genius too for the BBC, particularly in the form of Brian George, to have had the foresight to instigate the collecting scheme in the first place...


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